Recently, a 14 year old Maryland girl was hanging out with her friends at the mall and drank two 24 ounce Monster energy drinks containing 480 milligrams of caffeine (more than five times the limit recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics). Less than 24 hours later, she went into cardiac arrest and died after 6 days in a medically induced coma. Her official cause of death was listed as "cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity". This young teen and her family were aware that she had a common heart condition, but her doctor felt that it posed little health risk. Tragically, her pre-existing condition mixed with a dangerous amount of caffeine ultimately caused her untimely death.
After the loss of a young life like this, we have to ask if children should even have access to these highly caffeinated beverages. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, emergency rooms have seen a dramatic increase in caffeine overdoses from 1,128 in 2005 to 13,114 in 2009. A big part of the problem is that, because these drinks are considered dietary supplements, the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the amount of caffeine that they contain. These drinks are also not required to display caffeine content on there labels, unlike soda.
Dr. Allen Taylor, chief of cardiology at Georgetown University Hospital believes that it's not worth the risk to let children and young adults consume these energy drinks. He said "Between the caffeine, the sugar, its effects on blood pressure, and potential adverse effects, I think it's really difficult to justify a case for children and young adults to be using these substances right now." Even though this information has been provided by the medical community, many critics feel that these energy drinks are marketed directly to this at-risk group.
It is important for parents to be aware of their children's consumption of these highly caffeinated drinks and for all consumers to hold the producers and marketers of these products to a higher standard.
Source: Teen girl dies of "caffeine toxicity" after downing 2 energy drinks; http://todayhealth.today.msnbc.msn.com; 21 March 2012